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Group covers Bigfork student lunch debts

| August 31, 2020 1:00 AM

Gap Fillers Flathead, an organization that raises funds to supply schools with feminine hygiene products and pays off school lunch debt, recently covered $4,730 in unpaid student lunches for Bigfork Schools. This cost would otherwise be left to the school to cover, noted founder Tammi Fisher.

Students can acquire lunch debt if their parents cannot afford to pay school lunch fees. In Bigfork, these costs range from 40 cents for a reduced lunch to $2.75 for a meal for an upper level student. There are also some families who may qualify for the federal free lunch program, but don’t enroll because of the stigma surrounding the issue, Fisher explained.

“They don't want to fill out the applications because they don't want to be identified,” she said.

Superintendent Matt Jensen said Bigfork Schools works with parents regarding payments, not the students, but that wasn’t always the case for some other local institutions. Fisher was shocked when she learned that students in other area schools were being asked in the lunchline to remind their parents to pay for their meals or given alternative food when their family was behind on payments.

“We want to end kids being debt collectors for their parents,” she said.

So Fisher and a group of friends founded Gap Fillers Flathead. They’ve since contributed thousands of dollars to local schools with this summer’s contribution being the first for Bigfork.

— Bigfork Eagle

Plains VFW plans parade Sept. 5

The cancellation of the 2020 Sanders County Fair and Rodeo, along with the always popular demolition derby, is leaving a big hole in entertainment options for area residents suffering from COVID-19 fatigue frustration.

The Horse Plains VFW is doing what it can to step up and fill the void by planning a parade over Labor Day weekend. The procession will head down Montana 200 at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 5. A growing number of others have expressed interest in being part of the festivities.

“With the fair activities cancelled, we still wanted to be able to do something for and with the community,” said VFW Quartermaster Heather Allen. “And with Plains Days also cancelled we had to do something.”

The planned parade initially called for a ride through town in pickup trucks by VFW members and families. Since then, local first responders have indicated they would like to take part in some form.

There is a good possibility they will be joined by members of the Patriot Guard, a veteran advocate motorcycle riders group known for honor guard displays for veterans’ funerals and at other patriotic events.

Allen said others who would like to take part in the parade are welcome to join in the procession.

The parade will also coincide with the Plains Gun Show, held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 5 at the VFW.

— Clark Fork Valley Press

C-Falls Habitat homes for sale

Habitat for Humanity in Columbia Falls has two townhomes for sale to lower income buyers who do not currently own a home. The homes were bought back from previous owners who have since moved, having outgrown the townhomes, noted Danny Shaw, business manager for Habitat of Humanity of Flathead Valley.

When the owner of a Habitat house decides to sell, Habitat has the right of first purchase, Shaw noted. That keeps the homes available for other families to purchase at values that are typically lower than the traditional housing market.

Habitat for a few years ago, along with the host families and dozens of volunteers, built a series of townhomes on Mitchell Way in Columbia Falls. The two homes are situated in that development.

In order to qualify, a prospective buyer:

Cannot own their own home.

Must be a Flathead County resident for 1 year.

Must be willing to meet sweat equity requirements, although these houses are already constructed.

Be willing to take a financial and first-time homebuyer course.

Must not have any outstanding judgments or bankruptcy claims.

Must be willing to save about $2,500 for closing costs.

There are also income requirements. Applications are available online at habitatflathead. org or at the Habitat office in Kalispell. The deadline for applications is Sept. 18.

— Hungry Horse News